National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

American Genealogical Studies: The Basics 

American Genealogical Studies: The Basics is a cloud-based course. NGS uses the Canvas by Instructure cloud-based learning management system.

What Will I Learn?

This independent learning course provides a solid foundation in genealogy. This course is for anyone just starting out or who wants a quick refresher on genealogical principles. American Genealogical Studies: The Basics consist of four modules covering:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Create A Research Plan
  3. Home Sources
  4. Family Traditions and Connecting with Others

This course will answer the following questions:

  • What is the difference between a pedigree chart and a family group sheet?
  • Why should I provide citations for my personal tree?
  • How do I develop a research plan?
  • What kinds of family papers and memorabilia have genealogical information?
  • How do I record and evaluate various family papers, memorabilia, and family traditions?
  • How do I reach out and connect with others?
  • How do I prepare, conduct, and evaluate an interview?

See the course syllabus to learn more about American Genealogical Studies: The Basics


The American Genealogical Studies series courses are cloud based. To access course material, you need either a computer or tablet with an Internet connection. Please refer to the FAQs for specific computer and software needs.

No software or material is downloaded onto your computer or tablet, but you do need an updated browser. To check for your particular browser compatibility, please see browsers supported by Canvas for further details.  

When Can I Start the Course?

Please allow three business days to receive an e-mail from NGS confirming registration.
You will then receive an e-mail from Canvas by Instructure providing you with login instructions, good for the duration of the course.

Do I Need Anything Further?

Although nothing further is required for the course, when citing genealogical sources NGS strongly recommends the book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.1
Note: If you plan to take either Guide to Documentation and Source Citation or the newly revised NGS Home Study Course now named Beyond the Basics (coming soon), Evidence Explained is required.


American Genealogical Studies series



The Basics



Guide to Documentation and Source Citation



Bundle of The Basics and Guide to Documentation



Beyond the Basics




Upon successfully completing both The Basics and Guide to Documentation and Source Citation, your NGS profile is set, allowing you to register for Beyond the Basics at the online NGS Store. You have up to one year after completing both The Basics and Guide to Documentation and Source Citation to enroll in Beyond the Basics.

Term of Course

NGS gives participants access to American Genealogical Studies: The Basics for six months from the date of registration. For those who need extra time, a one-time extension of three months is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator at prior to the course expiration date.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

All purchases of courses are final. No refunds are issued.

Certificate of Completion

Each person who successfully completes the American Genealogical Studies: The Basics receives a certificate of completion. Certificates are mailed out once per month. If you complete the course by the 20th of the month, we mail your certificate out at the end of that month. Please refer to FAQs for further information.

Contact the NGS Course Administrator at

Text Size Increase Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Bookmark and Share